David Lowery‘s The Old Man & The Gun (Fox Searchlight, 9./28) suffers, I’m afraid, from a bad case of the gentle blahs. Or, more precisely, from the congenials. It won’t hurt to sit through it, and it’s nice to watch Robert Redford glide through a mild-mannered bank robber film without anything bad or scary or challenging happening to him. Or to costars Casey Affleck, Sissy Spacek, Danny Glover, Tom Waits and Tika Sumpter, for that matter.
A fictionalized, fable-like story of Forrest Tucker (Robert Redford), a real-life bank robber and prison escape artist, the film plays it light and mild all the way, and I’m sorry but it doesn’t put food on the plate. Because nothing really happens, no one is threatened or put to the test, nobody risks anything, nobody bares their soul…zip.
It’s a movie about comfort and conviction (i.e., an old guy loves robbing banks and so that’s what he does) and mild vibes and incredible good luck. Robbery after robbery after robbery, and nothing really happens to anyone. Okay, Tucker gets caught. Once. And then he gets out. And then…okay, I won’t spoil. But nothing happens.
I’m open to a movie about a polite and kindly thief who knows how to treat a lady (Phillip Borsos‘ The Grey Fox was an excellent film in this regard) but I didn’t believe a word of Lowery’s film. Not a damn word. Tucker robs banks without flashing a gun or threatening to shoot anyone, and nobody ever says “nope, I won’t give you the bank’s money” or “fuck you…if you want the dough you’re gonna have to shoot me.” A craggy-faced career criminal pulls off a couple of dozen robberies, and they’re all a walk in the park.
If Forrest Tucker had been a black dude, he would have been killed early on. In his youth, I mean. Cop bullets.
Almost all of The Old Man & The Gun is set in the early ’80s, and so Affleck, who plays a Texas detective, isn’t allowed to wear the ten-day-beard look — that didn’t happen until the mid to late ’80s, and only in the coastal cities at that. And I found the idea of a Texas detective being married to an African American woman (Sumpter) in ’81 highly unlikely. Not unheard of, mind, but things were different in this country 37 years ago, especially in conservative regions.
Olivia Hamilton, First Man director Damien Chazelle.
Roma director-writer Alfonso Cuaron, Trial By Fire director Ed Zwick.
Destroyer, Boy Erased star Nicole Kidman, Netflix honcho Ted Sarandos.
The Boy Erased gang: (l. to r.) producer Kerry Kohansky Roberts, original author Garrard Conley, director-screenwriter Joel Edgerton.
Netflix’s Lisa Taback, Ted Sarandos
Orson Welles‘ The Other Side of the Wind has screened at the Venice Film Festival, and the critical reaction seems to be “fascinating…we get it…worth seeing…makes you feel a little woozy but so what?”
We’ve all known for months that when it finally shows, The Other Side of the Wind will have to be given a fair amount of slack. Orson has to be welcomed back to earth with a certain “wonderful to see you again, we love you no matter what” attitude. Then again you can’t be too kid-gloves. Before you sit down to review anything, you have to ask yourself the age-old question, “Am I a man or a mouse? Am I a rock, a gentle reed that bends in the wind, or a piece of dandelion fuzz?”
I spoke yesterday morning to a guy who’d recently seen it, and I could sense that he didn’t know quite how to process the jumbled entirety, much less render a short, bottom-line reaction. I promise that no matter what I think when I finally see it, I will be as respectful and obliging as possible without being too twinkle-toes.
The printed Telluride schedule has Welles’ film showing just once (Saturday at 9 am at the Palm), which I definitely can’t attend. Maybe a screening or two will be added in one of the TBA slots.
From Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman: “An eccentric, rather choppy, but highly watchable movie, and Orson Welles is quite alive in it. You can feel the intensity of his DNA in its sinister atmosphere of garish noir depravity. [But] Evoking Touch of Evil and Citizen Kane isn’t the same thing as matching their artistic power.
“So is it a good movie or a bad one? A fascinating jumble or a searingly told story? A work of art or a curio? Let’s say that it’s a little of all those things.
Remember the second-to-last scene of A Face in The Crowd? A live broadcast of a hugely popular TV show hosted by Lonesome Rhodes’ (Andy Griffith) has come to an end, and the closing credits are rolling. In a moment of arrogance, the demagogic Rhodes looks into the camera and, presuming the studio mikes have been turned off, tells his millions of loyal fans that he thinks they’re low and stupid. It triggers his downfall, or at least the beginning of the end.
I was thinking this morning that if a similar thing happened with Donald Trump, it could hurt him badly with the deplorables. Maybe. Consider, for example, a recently posted Jonathan Chait article, “Trump Is a Snob Who Secretly Despises His Own Supporters“:
“Conservatives have spent decades depicting liberals as coastal snobs. Entire campaigns were built from this theme, from Michael Dukakis’s ‘Harvard Yard boutique’ to various Democrats failing to display the requisite enthusiasm for Nascar. Every image of Barack Obama in the right-wing media cast him gazing downward imperiously, a pose that conservatives seemed to think captured his contempt for the good people of the heartland.
“Given the attention they have lavished on such picayune details as John Kerry’s failure to order cheesesteak properly, it’s not even possible to imagine what they would do with direct evidence of a president disdaining his attorney general’s University of Alabama law degree and regional accent. Imagine one of those scenes from a ’90s action movie where the bad guys are wearing night-vision goggles in the dark, and then suddenly faced with blinding light.
“But as is so often the case, the accusation that was made falsely against Democrats turns out to be true of Trump. For all his vaunted populism, Trump is filled with contempt for average people in general and his own supporters in particular.”
Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman both admires and is vaguely irked by Alfonso Cuaron‘s Roma, The Hollywood Reporter‘s Todd McCarthy is somewhere between levitated, knocked flat and tickled pink.
“For all its dust and flow and sprawl, there’s hardly a moment in Roma that isn’t orchestrated for our observance from on high,” Gleiberman observes, “and that’s one reason why a lot of people are likely to hail it as some sort of masterpiece.
“Roma is no mere movie — it’s a vision, a memory play that unfolds with a gritty and virtuosic time-machine austerity. It’s a Proustian reverie, dreamed and designed down to the last street corner and scuffed piece of furniture.
“Yet I actually think it’s far from a masterpiece, because as a viewing experience it has a slightly hermetic coffee-table-book purity. Every moment comes at you in the same methodically objective and caressing Zen way.”
“Roma may not be the memoir film many might have expected from such an adventurous, sometimes raunchy, sci-fi/fantasy-oriented filmmaker,” McCarthy allows, “but it’s absolutely fresh, confident, surprising and rapturously beautiful.
“It becomes clear soon enough that Cuaron’s stance here is that of a poetic curator of memories. The shimmering, silvery monochromatic images summon up moments and experiences with crystalline vividness.
“Taking over as cinematographer himself and working without the incomparable DP Emmanuel Lubezki for only the second time in his career, the director here relies upon the use of slow lateral pans to move from one event to another.
“This creates the opposite effect of quick cutaways and reaction shots, producing instead a feeling of the continuity of life, an indication of one experience or encounter leading to another, of everything being related, an establishment of certain events that will ultimately lead to a repository of permanent memories as opposed to evanescent ones.”
Collider‘s Jeff Sneider is reporting that Damon Herriman, the guy playing the demonic Charles Manson in Quentin Tarantino‘s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, is also playing Manson in season #2 of David Fincher’s upcoming em>Mindhunter series. Sneider reports that “while Herriman’s casting in the Tarantino film was announced first, he was actually cast in Mindhunter much earlier, and in fact “already shot his scenes in July.” In other words, Tarantino was almost certainly told about Herriman’s Mindhunter performance (perhaps by Fincher himself) and decided “what the hell…I want someone good playing Manson and this guy is that.” Will Netflix start streaming Mindhunter before the Tarantino film pops on 7.26.19? Sneider is doubtful.
If I’d been in Tarantino’s shoes I would have cast…I was going to say Bob Odenkirk as Manson, but he’s too old now. Certainly to play the 1969 version.
The first screener I received this year was for Sebastian Lelio‘s Disobedience, the first-rate, finely acted, highly emotional Orthodox Jewish lesbo drama with Rachel Weiss, Rachel McAdams and Alessandro Nivola. (My default mini-review.) The screener for Morgan Neville‘s widely praised Mr. Rogers doc arrived yesterday.
Nobody knows anything except for the fact that Ethan Hawke and Glenn Close are brilliant in First Reformed and The Wife, respectively. I feel like a wuss for allowing Gold Derby‘s Tom O’Neil to nudge me into making predictions based on almost nothing but gut feelings, intuition, insect antennae vibrations, hairs on the back of my neck, little devils and angels whispering on my shoulders (except in the cases of Close and Hawke).
But you know what? A lot of these names are going to be top contenders anyway. Because people want what they want, and they can sense things. On top of which I am occasionally Zoltar, the all-knowing channeller, award-season mystic and Academy whisperer. Please tell Zoltar what’s coming that he’s missing, etc.
Comment from a guy who hears things, gets around, knows a thing or two: “The long drive must be affecting your mind. Lakeith Stanfield for Sorry to Bother You????? Single worst movie I have seen all year. Green Book‘s Viggo Mortensen AND Mahershala Ali, with Viggo in front position of those two.”
The 45th Telluride Film Festival announced its alphabetical slate this morning. The only title that hadn’t been predicted in this or any other space space is Ed Zwick‘s TRIAL BY FIRE, a fact-based wrongful execution drama. The boldfaced titles are those I’m especially interesting in seeing, totalling 18. How many of these will I actually see? 12 or 13, if that.
· ANGELS ARE MADE OF LIGHT (d. James Longley, U.S.-Denmark-Norway, 2018)
· BE NATURAL: THE UNTOLD STORY OF ALICE GUY-BLACHÉ (d. Pamela E. Green, U.S., 2018)
· BIRDS OF PASSAGE (d. Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego, Colombia-Denmark-Mexico, 2018)….saw it in Cannes.
· BORDER (d. Ali Abbasi, Sweden, 2018)
· BOY ERASED (d. Joel Edgerton, U.S., 2018)
· CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? (d. Marielle Heller, U.S., 2018)
· COLD WAR (d. Pawel Pawlikowski, Poland-France-U.K., 2018)
· DESTROYER (d. Karyn Kusama, U.S., 2018)
· DOGMAN (d. Matteo Garrone, Italy-France, 2018)…saw it in Cannes.
· DOVLATOV (d. Aleksei German, Russia-Poland-Serbia, 2018)
· FIRST MAN (d. Damien Chazelle, U.S., 2018)
· FISTFUL OF DIRT (d. Sebastián Silva, U.S., 2018)
· FREE SOLO (d. Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, U.S., 2018)
· GHOST FLEET (d. Shannon Service and Jeffrey Waldron, U.S., 2018)
Winslow and Holbrook, specifically. Poor Winslow isn’t exactly down-at-the-heels, but it doesn’t seem all that economically robust. It has a swanky Spanish-styled hotel and two or three nice bars or restaurants (maybe more), but the atmosphere feels a bit flat. If it weren’t for that Jackson Browne-Glenn Frey song “Take It Easy,” things would probably be that much leaner. There are statues of Browne and Frey dead smack in the center of town.